Lost and found
With a 2-year-old and a just-turned-5-year-old running my house now, things go missing, particularly the remote lovingly named “Alexa” that connects to the Amazon-based lifeline of 22 minutes of peace and quiet in the form of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” which for those of my generation without kids is an animated spin on the “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” we all recall. She’s fallen through the couch, been set on top of the microwave, left in a sweatpants pocket, and even made her way onto the ice in my jacket in recent weeks. I’d like to blame the boys, but her frequent disappearances are as much my fault as theirs.
However, thanks to one night’s search for our missing Alexa, I was transported back in time and made whole with something that I had thought had been lost to the ages. As we searched the cracks and crevices of the living room furniture one evening, my wife reached deep under the arm of the old blue fabric La-Z-Boy recliner and pulled out a black, oblong item and asked me what it was. Suddenly, it was as if my life rewound to a decade before and countless adventures on the ice and open water as she held the black fabric of an old Gerber belt sheath in the air.
In her hand was my trusty sidearm from days back home, long before our wedding and a blur of on-ice adventures a few years after it and a move to northeastern Minnesota. The countless white bass the needlenose pliers freed from tiny jigs on August evenings on Lake Ashtabula and bluegills sent home to the shallows of Big Detroit Lake with a simple twist in warming spring waters flashed and flipped before the replay in my memory. It’s fine-point precision extracted the tiny treble hooks on small spoons from slab crappies on Ely Lake, and helped me release my first steelhead on the north shore of Lake Superior. Slowly wrapping my hand around the soft black case, I felt the hard steel underneath and looked up at her in awe as the crackle of the Velcro gave way.
Somewhere between our second move and third one seven years ago, the multitool had vanished in the way so many other pliers do, but its maddening disappearance and absence was felt greatly. Many substitutes attempted to fill the void, but this was a Gerber Fisherman 600, Model 07572, which I had purchased with saved up tip money from my time working tables on a diner just off Main Street in my hometown. While I had feared that it found its resting place the dark dampness of the bottom of some boat — or worse, a lake somewhere along the way — I couldn’t quite place that terrible moment in my memory. Over the years, I made do with a combination of knives, hook sharpeners, scissors, pliers and other tools that all had once been found in the implement I had lost, and on their own, paled in comparison.
I slid the multitool out of its case and into my palm, and felt as if I was shaking hands with an old friend as I wrapped my fingers around it. With a snap of my wrist, the pliers popped out from the storage space in the handle with a click as crisp as the very first time. I inspected the tool from tip to butt and pulled out each accessory from the coarse-and-fine hook sharpener, knife and scissors to the screwdrivers and tweezer. It was all in such pristine shape and brought back such fond fishing memories I was at a loss for words.
I then wondered why, after all these years, I hadn’t just bought a replacement, and with a little searching I figured out that part of the mystery of the missing multitool as well. Gerber had discontinued the 07572 and its successor, the Flik Fish, nearly a decade ago. The ones I found on eBay and other dim corners of the Internet were selling for more than $200. My jaw dropped and I picked the pliers up off the desk, tucked it back in the sheath and stashed it in my lockable drawer below the photos of a few fish it may have once freed; becoming even more nervous after the reunion and online appraisal about taking it out again … in our outdoors.